Wednesday, May 31st, 2023

GLBT law professor William Eskridge speaks at Boston University Law School…

Billy Glover…on same-sex marriage legal history and progress.

December 24, 2012.

I am glad C-SPAN taped a talk by Prof. William Eskridge of Yale speaking at Boston University Law School on same sex marriage. His book is The Case for Same Sex Marriage (1996), and his speech is going to be published in the (BU) Law Review.

Eskridge gave a brief history. It is, like most of the history of the movement to gain equal/civil. rights for homosexual Americans, not a single person or issue or method story. Since the issue was first discussed in print in ONE Magazine in 1954, there have been many people and views on the issue and how to gain it, and even if it is a good idea to have it.

EskridgeHe gives his own views and work on the subject/issue. I think it was 1971 when the Baker case happened in Minnesota. Then he mentions the case in Hawaii and how it was stopped. He worked on a DC case. He says that other issues affected this issue, such as Lawrence v. Texas, law changes in Europe, people knowing more lgbt people. He repeats—maybe in a sense it is practical for a non academic group but not a law school group—that Stonewall was a major event, the error that it was the first time we fought back. He says AIDS slowed the progress, but it seems to me that instead it got the movement more sympathy and got people supporting us who would not have done so otherwise. He  says having same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts was a great step forward as people saw it in the real world.

An aside, he says to think about the subject by using three TV shows as reference: Modern Family gives us one view, Revenge another, and then Homeland—the one many right-wingers think of since it means the issue is a Trojan Horse—ruining marriage, as someone is trying to secretly ruin the nation. (He gives Ellen some credit too.)

He thinks a slow method is best so doubts the court will go too far until a few years, when the public is ready, as in a sense it was for Loving v. Virginia, and he says that case affects same sex marriage as does the thinking (?) in Romer v. Evans. I think he was thinking that Bowers v. Hardwick set us back, and another bad case could do it again.

A questioner asked the obvious: do some in the community/movement think that pushing marriage is too much like being heterosexual and giving up status as an outsider and more free person? He replied that is an issue, but AIDS should have shown that if we are in a more committed relationship that is more supportive of a safer status and supports the idea of family.

Don Slater and others said that the decision in Connecticut giving women the right to contraceptives removed the issue of sex and/or marriage being only for procreation.

There was also a question about separating the issue of the government concern in marriage and the religious part. He did not then point out how the Mormons and Catholics defeated the Prop 8 and instead blamed the loss on lousy advertising.


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